All posts by Rachel Heimke

FTT 9/20

Salmo domesticus is the farmed salmon that is so prevalent in the chapter on salmon this week. It is a really important topic in fisheries to discuss, as both the economic and environmental implications of farming so many fish are going to define the next few generations of fisheries. Farming salmon started as a small operation in Norway that soon became a phenomenon in many countries, once feeding and cultivating was worked out. Various breeds were selected and crossbred for the best traits, and aquaculture took off. 

Farmed salmon can be either a blessing or a curse, depending on how we handle it. On one hand, if we keep farmed salmon out of wild salmon streams and create sustainable environments for them, we could create our own food source and potentially not fish the wild salmon to extinction. Since humans as a species continue to grow exponentially, if we fish exclusively wild salmon at the current rate we are consuming salmon, the salmon will go extinct quickly. However, there is a large chance we won’t handle fish farming in the best way, and this could be incredibly detrimental if it gets out of hand. Farmed salmon could easily displace wild salmon in streams, which would undo all that we were striving for in the first place. In addition, there’s an ethical dilemma for some people about eating something we cultivated specifically for ourselves. When we eat farmed salmon, we are no longer eating a species that was wild, and we don’t always know enough about the genetic implications of eating something we invented. It is a dangerous game we are playing that could turn out to be the ruin of wild salmon.

FTT 9/15

Greenberg was exposed to a lot of the harsh realities of Yupik life, including the high suicide rate and relative scarcity of fish. It seems that while the wild salmon were doing well, so were the Yupik people, as their culture emphasizes their connectedness to nature. Salmon is their main source of food, and many of their practices and habits revolve around the health of the salmon at the time. As the salmon numbers drop, so does their opportunity to practice their culture. Now, salmon are valuable enough that they sell the good ones, receiving packaged meat in return. This is a big change from what it used to be. Greenberg also heard about the high suicide rate in the area, and probably connected that negativity with the conclusion that the Yupik people have a very different position now than they used to. He is probably thinking that as the salmon numbers continue to decline, the Yupik people will be forced to lose even more of their culture and identity, so their futures are as entwined as their past has been.

I do agree with Greenberg to some extent. I think that the future of wild salmon, if dark, will result in a further loss of culture for the Yupik people and mean a definite change for them. If the wild salmon experience a resurgence, I think the Yupik people will have an opportunity to revert in part to their old ways and regain some of the cultural identity they have lost in recent years. However, I would say that the modern world is changing at a fast pace, and even if salmon rebound, I’m sure that the Yupik people will have combined elements of Western culture and their traditions. If the salmon’s future is to decline, I think that some of the Yupik people will adapt to new times and, while losing some of their history, will rebound in a new way that none of us can foresee.

Fish Tank Thursday

Paul Greenberg grew up fishing in a pond near his house, so he knew the waters well and the species and abundance of aquatic life that lived there at the time. It really seemed like fishing was his passion, as he grew up spending his free time at the pond catching fish. The fish were numerous, and he memorized the flow of species as the seasons changed due to the sheer amount of time he spent there. Years later, he came back to the pond and fished, only to find no fish. It was probably really strange for him, as he grew up knowing the populations of those waters, and the pond would have seemed like a constant in his life. Now that constant had changed, and it makes sense that he would have poured his energy into finding the cause and exploring the new patterns across the world. 

I haven’t had an experience like this in my life. I haven’t lived in one place for a really long time, and I don’t have anything in my life like the fishing pond was to him. However, if I was to return to Anchorage and see the population of resident moose drastically depleted, or the places of nature in the city completely repopulated with different trees and animals, I would probably want to know more about what happened.

I think Greenberg would put the health of our world fisheries in a declining state rather than a positive one. All he has found so far is that native species of fish are no longer abundant, and that instead four other species are taking their place. This seems like a big change, and I would think he would say that the overall health is on the more negative end of the spectrum, such as 6.

I think Greenberg will have a more positive outlook by the end of the book, when his research is culminated and he knows more about fisheries in the entirety of the world rather than simply his hometown pond.